Spring has certainly sprung here in Minnesota!
I don't know about you, but I find it impossible to stay inside when 73 degrees, sunshine, and blue skies are beckoning. One of my favorite ways to break up my work days and take in some of that fresh Minnesota air is to walk my dog. While we walk, I put in my headphones and tune in to a podcast. I tend to gravitate towards shows that give me different perspectives on the creative life and business of being an artist. Here are the shows I tune in to on a regular basis.
Podcasts for those short jaunts around the block
The Premise: This podcast is created and hosted by author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars). Each episode features beautifully-crafted essays on two unrelated subjects from the human-centered planet (i.e. Cave Paintings and the Taco Bell Breakfast Menu). At the end of each essay, Green rates the subjects on a 5-Star scale.
Episode Length: Under 30 minutes
What I love about this show: Green does a wonderful job not only of finding meaning and beauty in the mundane things we tend to take for granted, but of communicating that beauty and meaning to his listeners in a way that makes them feel like Hawaiian Pizza or The Seed Potatoes of Leningrad are the most important things they could possibly know about in that moment. My absolute favorite thing about this show, however, is the complete absurdity of rating these things on a 5-star scale; value is subjective, which is something we should all remember as we move through this career in the Arts.
The Premise - Host Noa Kageyama trained as a violinist. His life revolved around music, and he had some success in the career. However, nerves would get the better of him, and passages he could perform perfectly in the practice room would not translate to the stage or auditions. He just assumed if he practiced harder, it would go away. When he enrolled in a class taught by an Olympic Sport Psychologist, the way he felt and thought about practice and performance shifted dramatically. It led him to put down his violin and pursue psychology. He now teaches performance psychology at Julliard. Each episode, he briefly reviews psychological studies and how they could potentially crack the code of why some of us perform well under pressure and others crumble.
Episode Length - Regular episodes are 10 minutes. He occasionally interviews professionals in the field about their practice habits, and those episodes are around 45 minutes.
What I love about this show - Have you ever been taught how to practice? I certainly wasn't. My teachers would just tell me I had to practice, but never how to make it an efficient and effective use of my time. Kageyama outlines studies that get you to think about your practice in new ways. When it comes to auditions and performances, schools typically teach us how to please the people behind the table or in the audience, but never how to make it a low-stress, high-performance situation within ourselves. This podcast made me realize that auditions and performances don't have to be the anxiety-inducing traumatic events I've always made them out to be. I don't have to practice more, I have to change the way I think about my practicing.
The Premise - Host David duChemin is a photographer, writer, publisher, and standup comedian. He puts out short episodes 3 times a month that are striking and thought-provoking monologues about the creative struggle.
Episode Length - 10-15 minutes, but they are so densely packed with information, it feels like a 30 minute podcast.
What I love about this show - Every episode feels fresh. They are beautifully written and narrated, and they are surprisingly sensitive. You can listen to the same episode several times and learn something new each time. But my absolute favorite part is that he doesn't just outline the struggle, he includes actions you can take to overcome it. Just give it a listen. It's well worth a 10 minute investment of your time.
Podcast for a long stroll around the park
The Premise - Host Andy J. Pizza is an illustrator. He also has ADHD. The format is primarily monologue, but he hosts occasional guests. The primary focus is overcoming obstacles with strategies to reach your creative potential. Bonus: Episodes 308 and 309 cover his top 10 creative podcasts and what they taught him about himself as an artist. Check out his recommendations.
Episode Length - This one is all over the board. Some episodes are 35 minutes, some are 90 minutes.
What I love about this show - It is less scripted and less polished than other monologue-style podcasts. This is heavily due to Mr. Pizza's ADHD, which he is very open about on the show. The result is a very candid snapshot of the life of a working artist with "alternative" brain function. As someone with an "abnormal" neurological condition (synesthesia), it's nice to hear some speak so openly about navigating life as a non "neurotypical" Artist.
I am always looking for recommendations for new podcasts, especially those that center around the creative life. Comment below with your favorite podcast recs!